In the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey things were definitely overwhelming, dare I even say scary! You’re starting something new, you don’t know if you’re doing it right or not. Things are just piling on. You have to work on your brand, practise your pitch, prospect for leads, be competitive in the market, etc. For a moment there you feel like a headless chicken running around in circles. But that’s just it, that feeling of overwhelm and fear is not real. It is created because there is no structure and your mind is running free with your thoughts. Your mind is playing tricks on you!
One early morning a colleague told me to write down on a piece of paper the tasks I had to do in order of priority. Seems simple enough! And sure enough after writing it down I realized there were only three things to accomplish and I had the whole day to do it. I realized maybe I wasn’t approaching this the right way if I wanted to be highly productive.
I got so intrigued, by the fact that my overwhelm literally went down to zero just by writing down the tasks I had to do on a piece of paper. I started researching and testing out the best ways to be productive at a very high-performing level and I went down a rabbit hole. Here are the top three productivity tips that I have been using and testing with my coaching clients and myself.
1) Write down your tasks and activities!
When you start writing down all your tasks, it opens up more space for your mind to be creative and free. Once I figured this out, I started creating my own productivity sheet. Honestly, you shouldn’t try to remember the priority order of your tasks, or whom you need to reach out to, or who needs to reach out to you, or whom you would like to have business lunch with. All you need to remember is to refer back to your sheet a couple of times during the day. I have been offering the sheet for free to my community for a bit over a year now. A lot of people have been getting great results from it. Here’s the link for the productivity sheet, LET’S GET PRODUCTIVE.
Furthermore, start structuring and organizing your agenda with your tasks and projects you have to accomplish. If you know one project is at a specific time of the day or the week, your mind will be less likely to think of several things at the same time. Your thoughts and energy will concentrate more easily on the task at hand. A great and easy way to structure that is with an agenda such as Google Calendar or iCalendar.
2) Set your intention for every activity!
High achieving and successful individuals set their intention on every activity of their day. They don’t just set it once at the start of a new business or for their New Year’s resolutions. By setting your intention for every meeting, contract negotiation, interview, prospecting, etc. You are allowing your reticular activating system (RAS) to guide you unconsciously towards your desired goals and outcomes. The best way I could explain the RAS is by calling it the filter of your mind. At any moment during the day you see millions and millions of elements but your brain does not have the capacity to assimilate all of that. The RAS assimilates that information and gives you the ones he thinks are the most pertinent to you. For example, think of the moment when you bought a new car. You were probably shopping for it for a couple of weeks or months. Then, as soon as you bought it you started noticing the same vehicle everywhere and before it was nowhere to be seen. That is the work of your reticular activating system. It assumes that the car that you shop for is extremely important for you. Every time the RAS sees the car, it makes you notice it.
That is the reason why you have to set your intention. If you don’t go into a situation with your desired intention, how is your RAS going to get you there?
3) Focus on one task at a time!
There’s a common misconception that if you multitask you get more things done in a productive manner. I guess that could be true for something that doesn’t require creativity or a lot of cerebral activity. But if you’re trying to create, solve problems or even produce the best work possible multitasking isn’t the way.
Neuroscience has shown us that the capacity to multitask is virtually nonexistent. Multitasking is a computer derived term. Our brain has only one processor. You might be thinking when you are feverishly working and you’re getting several things done at the same time you are more effective. That is not the case! When you’re moving from one project to another, you’re mind flips back to the original project and it can’t pick up where it left off. It takes a few minutes to ramp up again and that’s where the productivity loss is happening.
As I realized this, I started blocking off chunks of time in my schedule for one specific activity. If I’m working with coaching clients I book a full day of coaching clients, if I’m writing my book I schedule a full session for that activity and if I’m prospecting for new leads you guessed it I am booking a specific time for that activity. This allows me to be more creative and to embody the role of the activity.
Essentially, the main goal is to try to get in a state of FLOW! This concept is explained by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow. Many professional athletes explain this as being IN THE ZONE. Some go as far as to say that in that state they can do no wrong. When you get in the state of flow your prefrontal cortex shuts down certain parts of your brain that are not necessary for the task at hand. For example, your perception of time, your physical body and your inner negative voice. By doing so you are creating without judgment.
Have you ever noticed that when you are so engulfed in task you don’t even realise the time passing. You may even forget to go to the bathroom in that time. That is your state of flow in action.
If you’re multitasking it is a lot more difficult to get into that state. This is why I concentrate on doing one thing at a time at the highest level possible.
Hope these tricks will help you out as much as they have helped me in my career. Don’t hesitate to share this with somebody who needs it.